England flopped, Wales won and the goalkeepers have been utterly useless. Now it’s our turn!
Ireland try to banish the memories of Poland and the Ukraine in 2012 when they open up their Euro 2016 campaign against Sweden. Holders Spain are in the early game against the Czech Republic and the tie of the first game round closes the night with Belgium and Italy locking horns.
And we’ve got a nice 17/1 anytime goalscorer treble with two Premier League stars.
Alvaro Morata, , Spain vs Czech Republic, 14:00 kick off
Despite playing just four of ten games during Spain’s qualifying campaign, their goal scoring hopes are being put on the veteran Aritz Aduriz and a striker 12 years his junior in Alvaro Morata.
Eyebrows were raised of Vicente Del Bosque when the squad was announced and there was no Costa or Torres. But with Morata they’ve a pace demon with an eye for goal. He netted twice against Korea in the warm up games to add to a dozen for Juventus in all competitions.
The Czech Republic failed to keep a clean sheet during qualifying and Spain have got a point to prove to the people writing them off. Then again, so did England.
Shane Long, , Republic of Ireland vs Sweden, 17:00 Kick off.
Ireland beat Germany. Shane Long scored. Do you remember that? Ireland. Beat Germany.
They also have to win against Sweden to have any chance of qualification. A 35 year old Robbie Keane isn’t going to get the goals. A ‘striker’ who failed to score in 25 of 34 games for club this season isn’t going to get the goals. So all hopes for Ireland fall once again on Shane Long, a player that’s the equivalent of that friend that just won’t go home.
The Swedish defence is as sturdy as an IKEA flat pack, so if the Irish can shut off Ibrahimovic and go on the counter they’ve got a serious chance. A repeat of that performance against the Germans and Ireland will win.
Kevin De Bruyne, , Belgium vs Italy, 20:00 kick off
There’s a lot of pressure on both Belgium and Italy. We’ve heard all about the Belgian’s potential but so far they’ve failed to deliver. Italy are on a downward curve and were embarrassed in their last two major appearances – a demolition in the final by Spain in 2012 was followed by a group exit at the World Cup.
The lose of this will likely have to win their second game. We’re expecting a close and tight game which’ll be decided by a moment of magic. One man has proved he can provide that: Kevin De Bruyne. He dragged Belgium to the quarter finals in Rio, and was the main reason for Man City’s run in the Champions League. Plus, he got five goals in 10 qualifying games, with a just under 75% shot accuracy.